Thai inspired, my personal version of the spicy, bright, tangy Som Tum (“som” meaning sour, “tum” meaning pounded) or Green Papaya Salad.
Calling this “Thai-inspired” only because my method can be considered slightly non-traditional compared to what was actually invented Laos. Found in Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia – you can imagine the variations of this dish! When developing the flavors of my dishes or new recipes within other cultural/regional cuisines, I try to do as much research as I can to ensure I’m not mistaking something for something else, and adhere to traditional preparation history. Otherwise, it’s rather inspired, innit? Hence, the “ish” here.
As with any type of cooking, each ingredient brings a unique power and punch, that when combined, creates an explosion of flavor. This particular salad takes careful consideration into the preparation, especially when it comes to opening up the strong juices from the garlic and lime. In traditional Northern Thai cooking, it’s served with sweet/tangy BBQ and rice, almost like a coleslaw! Can be enjoyed on its own, as well.
As they say: preparation is key. Along with fresh ingredients. Sounds more daunting than reality probably tends to be, but it’s true. Whether its making this dish or any other passion, spend time perfecting your craft in the beginning, and the rest of the journey becomes easier.
PS – there’s no fish sauce or fish oil in this dish. This is completely vegan!
PREP: 25 minutes TOTAL: 30 minutes YIELD: 4-6 servings
- 2 cups Shredded Green Papaya (preparation steps in instructions section)
- 1 Plum Tomato, medium diced
- 8-10 Snow Peas, sliced into thin strips
- 1/2 cup Roasted Peanuts, roughly chopped
While you can buy it ready-made, you can also make at home: take raw peanuts and dry roast them on low heat in a saute pan until lightly colored. Put into a jar and shake until skin falls off & pick out peanuts.
- 2 Garlic Cloves, peeled
- 2 Thai Green Chilies (optional, adjust for preferred spice level)
- 1 tbsp. Jaggery
- 2 tbsp. Fresh Lime juice (fresh is key, please don’t use bottled lime juice!)
GRAB A MORTAR/PESTAL FOR BEST RESULTS! STEPS TO MAKE DISH WITHOUT ONE ALSO BELOW!
- Prepare Green Papaya: Wash Papaya as with any fruit. Peel skin/flesh using vegetable peeler, and discard. Carefully, cut papaya length wise. Using spoon, scoop out seeds and throw out. Using a box grater or food processor on shredder setting, shred the Green Papaya until you have 2 cups. Refrigerate any remainders for later use.
- Prepare Dressing:
Method 1 − Mortar/Pestle: Place whole Garlic cloves and Thai Green Chilies in mortar. Pound with pestle into small chunks. Add jaggery and continue to pound until dissolved and slightly pasty. Add Snow Pea strips, half of the Roasted Peanuts, and continue to pound. Add in Lime Juice and mix it all together using a spoon. Done!
Method 2 − Without Mortal/Pestle: Finely grate Garlic cloves and mince Thai Green Chilies, and add to mixing bowl. Using grater/microplane, grate jaggery into mixing bowl. Add in Lime Juice. Using large spoon, mix all ingredients together until jaggery is dissolved. Mix in Snow Pea strips and half of the Roasted Peanuts. Continue to mix ingredients, using back of the spoon to press down on any large chunks/pieces. Done!
- In mixing bowl, gently mix together the prepared dressing, shredded Green Papaya, and diced Tomato until incorporated.
- Transfer salad to serving dish. Sprinkle/garnish with remainder of Roasted peanuts.
- Serve and enjoy!
#TashTip: Adjust sweetness and tang by playing around with jaggery and lime juice amounts. Use fine brown sugar as a jaggery substitute. Remember, garlic can add spice as well, so tread lightly with chilies. Goes well with my Thai Basil Fried Rice recipe!